My History of Social Networking

by John Soares on February 24, 2011

Most freelancers are quite active with social media/social networking, me included.

My Social Networking/Blogging Story

I got online in 1994 with an AOL account and started using e-mail to connect with editors at my book publisher, at the magazines and newspapers who hired me for freelance writing projects, and at various college textbook publishing companies. By 1997 I was active in AOL forums, primarily the ones focused on astronomy.

I began blogging in 2008 for my first WordPress site, Northern California Hiking Trails. In 2009 I started the Writing College Textbook Supplements blog to promote my new ebook about freelance writing for college textbook publishers, and I launched in September of 2010.

I also joined Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn in 2010. (Follow me on Twitter.)

Where Do You First Enter This History?

What are your important dates? Or give us your opinion on the future of social networks, including today’s biggies and the promising upstarts like

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Patricia@lavender-oils February 24, 2011 at 6:54 PM

Hi John

That was an interesting look at how social media has progressed to where we are now. I have only started blogging in the past year, so have had to do a lot of catch up.

I mostly use Twitter to interact with my followers, find new posts to read and message business buddies. Find it a powerful tool if used correctly. Joined Facebook before I joined Twitter, but must say I haven’t really utilised it in my business plans.

Have friends who are dedicated FB users, so this year will be learning more of how to use it to my advantage in my business.

Thanks for sharing John. Interesting read.

Patricia Perth Australia
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2 John Soares February 25, 2011 at 7:28 AM

Patricia, so far I have kept Facebook primarily for friends and family and just a few other people. I’ve resisted setting up a business/fan page for either or my hiking blog, although I’ll look into that in the near future.
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3 Delena Silverfox@YouLoveCoupons February 24, 2011 at 6:57 PM

I remember seeing this timeline before, but I can’t remember when that was. When it comes to that history, I remember being ten years old and logging in for the first time on our new family computer my father brought home. We all sat around and joined one of the first primitive chat rooms. Well, forum, actually. That was back in 1989.

Kind of interesting, isn’t it?

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4 John Soares February 25, 2011 at 6:11 AM

When I lived in Chico, California in the early 1990s I had a friend who was on Compuserve, I think, and he was quite active in those early forums. He actually dated a woman he met on a forum, although the forum was not about dating.
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5 fran Civile@boomers making money February 25, 2011 at 12:28 AM

Thank you for that timeline John … very interesting! I bought my first computer late 1993 and I remember asking the friend who was advising me about that major move what the difference was between a 260 and a 360 … I think those were the numbers. When he told me that the 360 was faster, I said Oh well I’m in no hurry, I’ll get the 260 ($100 cheaper).

My first connection was AOL – do you remember how hard it was to unsubscribe from aol? I did move to what was to become Comcast after using a couple of other names, and I’m still with them.

I had a gift basket website set up for me in 1997 for a home business I started, closed that down end of 2006 and moved to Internet Marketing.

So John, you just starting a string of storytelling with your post! very clever! I’ll have to think of something along that line!

Fran :)
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6 John Soares February 25, 2011 at 6:15 AM

I was grateful that AOL allowed me to get online, but I hated its initial pricing structure that charged by the hour. And my e-mail inbox eventually got swamped by spam.

And the connection to the World Wide Web was spotty.
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7 Michele Welch February 25, 2011 at 5:58 AM

Hi John,

I too started in 2008 with my first online store, however, I didn’t really get into the social networking circuit until some time in 2009. But I didn’t ‘get’ social networking until some time in 2010.

I was completely doing it all wrong…lol. Well, for the most part. On Twitter, I was doing what I now tell everyone NOT to do and that is to use your social media as dumping grounds for your content and not adding value.

Oh, how I’ve grown. πŸ˜‰

Great to learn about your history. And thanks for the chart. :-)


8 John Soares February 25, 2011 at 7:31 AM

Michele, I’ve put much more effort into Twitter in recent weeks, including educating myself about the best ways to use it, and also getting more quality followers.

I see many people on Twitter who still don’t “get” Twitter, but hopefully they’ll figure it out over time.
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9 Dave Doolin February 25, 2011 at 9:37 AM

Makes me want to fire up my Myspace account. Keep Facebook in check!


10 John Soares February 25, 2011 at 3:52 PM

Dave, I never had any desire to get involved with MySpace. By the time I was getting involved with social media it had already been eclipsed by Facebook, and it had a reputation as a place primarily for music groups, artists, and teens.
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11 Anne Waymn February 25, 2011 at 12:45 PM

I bought an appleII+, probably in 1980(!) because, tweaked, it would check my spelling. Not long after that (I’m poor at dates and other numbers) I was hired as a tech writer at Kaypro who build a sewing machine sized lug-gable personal computer before IBM got into the mix. There, with two co-authors who knew the tech I co-authored a book called Talk To The World or something, published I think by tab. Must have been modems, and they and the book were pretty awful.

John, since you were in the bay area you may have known about the Well? – probably the original online real community all in text via phone modems… and it went on from there.

Grand, absolutely grand.

Love the graphic
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12 John Soares February 25, 2011 at 3:44 PM

Anne, I used my brother’s Kaypro in the mid-1980s. It had two 5.25″ floppies: one for loading the operating system, and the other for saving documents. I bought a used Osborne, another dinosaur, and used it to write the papers that got me my master’s degree at UC Davis (political science.)

I had friends on the Well, but I wasn’t active there. I know it’s of great historical importance.
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13 TJ McDowell February 25, 2011 at 12:48 PM

I can’t believe how young most the online world really is. I think it will probably have a natural life-cycle similar to what we’ve seen for tv and radio. It will be amazing, then mainstream, then not as popular possibly as something else big comes on the scene. I think the theme has definitely been toward making it easier to communicate globally. Maybe the internet will just continue to evolve into something more amazing as time goes on. I guess we’ll see.
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14 John Soares February 25, 2011 at 3:54 PM

TJ, I’d actually like to see the Internet be a little less popular. I’d like people to spend less time on computers, on cell phones and smart phones, and in front of television sets, and more time getting exercise and hanging out with friends and family.
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15 TJ McDowell February 26, 2011 at 11:53 AM

Yea – spending too much time in front of the computer isn’t healthy. I just think that the trend I’m seeing is for more computerization instead of less. Do you think the average family will be spending more time together over the next 10 years? From your perspective, what would it take for that to happen across our society?
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16 John Soares February 26, 2011 at 1:47 PM

Parents and individuals will need to make a conscious choice to spend less time in front of screens. I’m not optimistic it will happen. The dominant trend in nearly all societies is to spend more and more time plugged in to something electronic.
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17 Jessica Murr February 25, 2011 at 1:55 PM

Your data in the graphic is outdated already! Facebook now has over 900 million active users. This is so timely, just this week I was just discussing the “original” social networking site and he insisted it was some archaic site I’d never heard of, or Interesting that it’s not even mentioned here. You’re obviously doing a great job with your blog John, look at all the feedback and comments you have already! Maybe I should start taking pointers from you πŸ˜‰ Great read, thanks for the history lesson.


18 John Soares February 25, 2011 at 3:51 PM

Thanks for your kind words Jessica!

I haven’t heard the 900 million figure for Facebook. This article about Facebook on Wikipedia ( says: “As of January 2011[update], Facebook has more than 600 million active users” and gives citations to Goldman Sachs executives. (Goldman Sachs is helping to handle Facebook’s likely eventual public offering of stock.)

Anne above mention the Well, which might qualify as a social networking site. One of my friends from grad school was active on it in the early 1990s.
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19 Charlotte February 26, 2011 at 6:27 PM

I’ve been blogging off and on since 2007. At the time, a couple of popular sites for bloggers were BlogCatalog and MyBlogLog. You could friend each other, and put your blog feeds up. This is where I found many of my early readers. Far as I know BlogCatalog is still going strong, though I’ve not been on it in ages. Alas, yahoo pulled the plug on MyBlogLog this week. I got on Twitter at the very beginning and I remember logging in and trying to figure out why it was supposed to be so great. Had a love/hate relationship with it until the last few months, when I’ve truly been loving it. And don’t even ask me about Facebook. Just not a huge fan, even though I have personal and business accounts.


20 John Soares February 27, 2011 at 9:05 AM

Charlotte, I’ve joined a handful of the blogger sites, but didn’t see much traffic. Ironically, the last one I signed up for was Yahoo’s MyBlogLog, in part because they pushed it at me so strongly on my Yahoo mail account, and then — poof — it’s gone.

I’m getting more out of Twitter these days, but it still has an odd narcissistic feel.
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21 Anne Sales @ Coupon Codes February 27, 2011 at 12:36 PM

I didn’t get to see a computer until around 1990 in my primitive province. I had my hand on a computer keyboard first time in 1995 using WordStar. Then I had my first email account in 1997. Had my friendster account Jan 2004 and started blogging in 2007. Four years later, I still consider myself blogging newbie. πŸ˜€
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22 Pinar Tarhan March 31, 2012 at 2:35 PM

I was watching one of my favorite shows, Person of Interest, the other day. It is a show where they try to prevent crimes from happening and it all starts with finding the name of a potential victim/criminal – but most of the time they don’t even need to hack into anything because people have volunteered so much information already on social sites …
I was watching with a half smile. It is a little scary that we’ve all become so reachable, but it is also amazing.

In 2006-2007, I started using Facebook vigorously because I was trying to keep in touch with my friends from other countries, and spending time during a very boring internship. But towards the end of 2009, I was using Facebook for business, and learning everything I could about Twitter. Because ever since I picked up the copy of Twitterville, I’ve known that Twitter doesn’t have to be a limbo of mundaneness.

I keep reading all the good resources I can on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin – the three social sites that I have complete faith in, gotten to know and found the time to keep up with.

I love social media and social networking- both for what it can do for long distance friendships and business relationships, but I really wish people stopped developing one site after the other. It is too tiring to test out all the promising newcomers to see if it might be good for our promoting efforts.

P.S. I signed up for Quora after reading your post. While I don’t want to test new sites, I can’t afford to overlook them completely. : )
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23 John Soares April 4, 2012 at 2:01 PM

Pinar, I’m also most active on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The first is primarily personal, while that latter two are almost strictly professional.

I haven’t been to Quora in months. I know it’s useful for some people, but it doesn’t appeal to me.
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